Juab County commissioners want the General Accounting Office and the Office of Technologic Assessment to evaluate the Air Force's plans to build an electronic battlefield in the West Desert.
The Air Force wants to expand the Utah Test and Training Range to create an Electronic Combat Test Capability, where fighter pilots could engage in simulated electronic combat.After a meeting with Air Force officials in Nephi last week, commissioners unanimously passed a resolution seeking the investigation.
The resolution directs the county attorney to write members of Utah's congressional delegation asking them to request the General Accounting Office and the Office of Technologic Assessment to evaluate the necessity for the project.
The meeting was the third between the Air Force and Juab commissioners. Commissioners requested it after seeing an Air Force draft report on the project written in April 1988.
The report was given to commissioners by residents of the West Desert who got it from Downwinders Inc., a military watch-dog group.
Air Force officials say the report is outdated and wasn't meant for public release. They refuse to release updated versions to the public, saying the information will be made public when the draft environmental impact statement is released for comment in late June.
Three updated versions have been given to Gov. Norm Bangerter, but his office also refused to release copies. A fourth draft is now being written, Air Force spokesman Dick Hector said.
At their meeting with Air Force officials, commissioners complained the Air Force had not been candid with them in earlier meetings about the use of live ammunition in the project. The Air Force spokesmen were also quizzed about the number of flights expected, effects on livestock, economic effects and rumors about the number of people who would work on the project.
Hector said the number of flights over Nephi would be "very few to none." Earlier Air Force statements said the numbers of flights into the test range would increase by 30 percent. Hector said some of the flights would come from Hill AFB and enter the test range from the south after flying through the valley near or over Nephi, while others would come from Wendover AFB and not pass over Nephi. Thus, he said, not all of the 30 percent increase in flights into the test range would pass over Nephi.
"Would you be dropping bombs out there?" Commissioner Richard Brough asked.
Hector said bombs are already being dropped and would continue.
"When we carry live ordinance, we're not talking about high explosives," said Len Berry of Hill Air Force Base media relations. "We're talking about inert missiles and bombs."